Conferencing In

CONFERENCING IN

Heritage students shine on the national level

Eliseo Alcala was hired by Noel Communications just before he graduated in December 2018. A computer science major, Alcala had participated
in the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/ Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) 2018 conference in San Antonio, TX. There he presented a research paper on “Broadcasting Technologies and Data Mining Techniques” – a hot topic in computer science. Representatives from Noel said they were impressed by the opportunities given Heritage students on cutting-edge technology research.

Likewise, computer science major Cesar Flores was hired by the second largest company in Yakima, Alliant Communications two years ago, even before graduation. Flores got a jump – make that two jumps – on the competition, not only through his participation in the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in Tampa in 2016, but also at the International Conference on Ambient Systems, Network and Technologies Conference 2016, in Madrid, Spain.

Conferences give students the opportunity to meet with top-level scientists such as Dr. Mario Capecchi, co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Psychology or Medicine (center). Here he is pictured with (left to right) students Juan Cabrera and Rosario Ramirez, Heritage professor Dr. Robert Kao, and student Alondra Zaragoza-Mendoza.

Creating meaningful opportunities for all students is one of Heritage University’s fundamental promises. For STEM students like Flores and Alcala, that promise includes meaningful research presentation opportunities at national and international academic conferences. These research internships and academic conferences are game changers – and often life changers – for Heritage students.

Seniors Katie Wentz (above) and Alexis Oxley (below right) were invited to present at the Murdock Science Conference last fall. Wentz took first place in the poster competition.

For STEM majors – whether computer science, biology, environmental science, biomedical sciences or a host of other majors – academic conferences provide a rare and meaningful way to set oneself apart, both academically and experientially.

The chance to spend two or three days at a conference, on another campus, in another city, steeped in STEM, presenting your own research to other academics, and networking with decision makers at graduate schools as well as leaders in STEM industries is a rare opportunity for undergraduate students anywhere.

For Heritage’s students, it’s part of the educational experience, and all STEM students are encouraged to participate.

 

 

When they do – many who may never have set foot on an airplane, travel cross-country, and those for whom public speaking has been a life- long fear, present their research before hundreds of people – they are opening the door to an array of academic and career possibilities.

“Students go to a conference not quite sure how they measure up, and they learn other students from bigger schools, are their peers,” says Dr. Kazuhiro Sonoda, Heritage provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “They learn they are not alone in their efforts and struggles, or their achievements. The whole experience is eye-opening and inspirational.”

“These conferences are comprised of a very high-performing, intelligent, accomplished groups of academics,” says Richard Swearingen, chair of Heritage’s Department of Math and Computer Science. “All these companies are there to meet our students and university graduate programs are there to recruit them.

“One of the ways we position students to be able to compete is that we give them something extra. Research-based internships and the experience of presenting at conferences are that something extra.”

INTERNSHIPS TEACH RESEARCH PRINCIPLES

The Society for Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics
& Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Conference. Mellon Mays Western Regional Conference (MMWRC). The Murdock Science Conference (MSC).

Lots of long names and acronyms, but each conference represents one thing for Heritage’s STEM students: academic and personal growth.

The prerequisite for students’ conference experience is simple: Conduct meaningful research and communicate your results. How? Internships.

Students’ participation in conferences starts with their internship and research experiences. Robyn Raya, environmental studies, has conducted several projects, including an air quality study conducted with support from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Heritage faculty help students find research opportunities, either on campus, within industry or business or at another educational institution. About a quarter of STEM students doing internships do their first internship on campus.

“When they intern on campus, they learn the basics of research here with one of their professors,” says Jessica Black, Ph.D., director of the Center for Indigenous Health, Culture & the Environment and chair of Heritage’s Science Department.

“It’s a good place to learn the principles and make mistakes. Things don’t always come out perfectly, and that’s ok. They’re learning. They’re enthusiastic.”

Computer science professor John Tsiligaridis, Ph.D., helped his students Alcala and Flores find their research internships. Working closely with each of his students, Tsiligaridis knows their strengths and interests. He regularly connects with his many contacts on and off campus to identify or craft internships.

“John is particularly adept at anticipating changes in computer science and seeing what’s going to be cutting edge,” says Swearingen. “He’s very good at getting research and internship placements.”

The Yakima Valley’s agribusiness focus means lots of STEM internship possibilities off-campus, including the following internships, many of which are funded by grants through the Center for Indigenous Health, Culture & the Environment (CIHCE):

• Michael Buck, an environmental studies major, interned with Yakama Nation Fisheries.

• Katie Wentz, a biology major, interned at the United States Department of Agriculture ARS Temperate Tree Fruit and Vegetable Research in Wapato.

• Yanet Torres, a biology major, and biomedical science major Autumn Teegarden worked at Washington State University-Prosser in its agricultural research facility.

• Paige Delp, Alex Martinez, Xavier Martinez and Jose Figueroa, all studying environmental sciences, worked on biochar projects in a Yakima Valley orchard, examining biochar’s role in water retention.

Black and several colleagues have even led a number of environmental science/studies majors to Costa Rica to do an assessment of tropical stream habitats and a survey of species of birds that frequent certain types of vegetation.

“Whatever students’ research experience, they own that experience. Then they develop their academic interests and their work based on their own background and skill sets,” she said.

CONFERENCES CHALLENGE AND REWARD

Once the internship and research has been done, a student will look at conference options with his or her advisor.

Conferences typically include a keynote speaker – often a renowned scientist – luncheons with speakers, opportunities for socialization and even field trips.

For their presentations, some students prepare a poster that features information about their research process and results. Others give oral presentations.

Some Heritage students receive special recognition for their presentations – students like Juan Cabrera who went to SACNAS twice, attended other conferences, and won awards for his presentations. Brothers Abraham and Andrew Calderon, who graduated in 2016, presented at numerous conferences, won awards and have both gone on to graduate school on the East Coast.

Samuel Small, a 2013 HU computer sciences graduate who’s now the director of the information technology department at Centralia College, says the first conference he attended was the beginning of many meaningful professional and personal relationships.

Now finishing his master’s with Georgia Tech, he’s done presentations at other conferences, has been invited to speak at conferences, and has produced white papers in his areas of expertise.

TRANSFORMATIONAL AND PROFOUND

Faculty like Tsiligiradis and Black almost always accompany their students to conferences. What they see there and afterward is transformational and profound.

“Every time we take students to conferences they come back with a renewed drive,” said Black. “We see over and over why having an academic dream and keeping that alive is so important. We’ve seen them come back with ideas not only about new career options and avenues for grad school, but ideas about research they want to pursue,
and for our Native students, things they want to communicate with their tribe about.”

“It’s an amazing resume builder, and it’s something students may not have had the opportunity to do if they were at a larger school,” said Swearingen. “It can make the difference between getting into grad school or not, when they ask them what their research interests are, our students can answer that.” page11image50103312

Geeking Out Over Tech

Samuel Small (B.S., Computer Science, 2013) is the Director of Information Technology and a computer science instructor at Centralia College. He is completing his master’s degree from Georgia Institute of Technology and is looking into Ph.D. programs.

Heritage’s computer science program is challenging, rigorous – and tailored for the success of each student.

Small but mighty— That’s how people who know it like to describe Heritage’s Computer Science program.

Though a relatively small number of students graduate from the program each year, they leave Heritage well educated in their subject matter, confident in their abilities, and often having studied highly specialized curriculum developed specifically in response to what’s needed by employers.

Having earned their Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science or Bachelor of Arts in Information Technology, most of Heritage’s computer science majors go right to work – as computer programmers, security specialists, systems analysts, database administrators, web administrators, software engineers and network administrators.

Some 15 to 20 percent go on to pursue graduate studies. HU computer science grads have gone on to some of the most prestigious graduate schools in the United States, including Loyola University, the University of Chicago and the University of Washington.

How does this small department achieve such big results?

A rigorous curriculum taught by outstanding faculty, a low teacher-to-student ratio, and a commitment to making real- world experience a part of each student’s education make all the difference.

STUDENT-TO-PROFESSOR RATIO

A student majoring in Computer Science at Heritage must be ready for an academic challenge. Required courses for the degree include Algorithms and Data Structures, Computational Complexity, Design and Construction of Large Software Systems and Computer Architecture. Non-computer science requirements include a full calculus sequence, math, algebra, statistics, physics and English.

It was precisely that kind of challenging curriculum that 2013 HU graduate Samuel Small sought.

Small started working on computers as a teen. He knew them inside and out, but he also knew he needed a formal education to have a career in computer science.

Small looked at a number of schools that offered the Bachelor of Science degree he needed, including Heritage. “Heritage’s program was similar to the major state schools – same requirements for your degree, same basic class structure,” said Small. “I wanted local – that was really important to me. And when I talked with Richard (Swearingen), I understood that if I went there, I wouldn’t be missing out on anything just because it was a small school.”

Dr. John Tsiligaridis leads a lecture on the design and analysis of algorithms in one of his upper-level courses.

PERSONALIZED ATTENTION

He not only didn’t miss out in terms of classes, he gained from close relationships with his professors, especially John Tsiligaridis, Ph.D., who teaches computer science, and Swearingen, who teaches math and chairs the Department of Math and Computer Science.

“Our cohort was four students, and I had five professors in all my time at Heritage. I really liked that,” said Small.

A constant for Small throughout his studies at Heritage was Tsiligaridis, who taught all of his computer science courses.

Tsiligaridis’s most recent Ph.D. is in Computer Science Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He also holds a Ph.D. in Computer Networks from National Technical University in Athens, Greece., as well as a Master of Science in OR and Informatics, a Master of Philosophy in Data Mining and two bachelor’s degrees.

Tsiligaridis – “John” to his students – is known for the personal and caring relationships he builds with each of them. Tsiligaridis worked with Small where he needed it, knowing he had more computer knowledge than his fellow students.

“Because I knew a lot of the content already, the time John and I spent together was focused on him mentoring me on the more challenging work,” he said. “John really cares about all his students. It was a huge plus of the Heritage experience.”

STAYING AHEAD OF THE CURVE

When your department is small, it can be nimble, said Swearingen, and that’s much to the benefit of the Heritage computer science major.

“The computer science realm evolves rapidly, and so staying ahead of the curve is important. Our size allows us to be responsive to change in the world of computer science and adjust our curriculum to make sure our students get to work on what is most relevant.”

Tsiligaridis maintains close working relationships with people in business in the Yakima Valley and beyond, so he’s continually aware of what’s needed today that may not have been a thing yesterday.

“John is particularly adept at anticipating changes in computer science and what’s going to be cutting edge. He’s very aggressive about identifying what we need to do to. If he catches wind that there’s a skill set a business might want from our graduates, he’ll develop a special course that targets that skill and gets students working in those classes,” said Swearingen.

INVALUABLE INTERNSHIPS

Heritage University computer science graduate Eliseo Alcala works at Noel Communications Jan. 18, 2019 in Yakima, Wash. (GORDON KING/Gordon King Photography)

Besides in-class time, a significant portion of Small’s education at Heritage was outside the classroom in an internship designed just for him.

Small worked with Heritage founder Dr. Kathleen Ross for two years researching a process for archiving documents for the Institute for Student Identity and Success.

Internships offer Heritage students meaningful opportunities to apply what they’ve learned in class, explore their particular interests, and develop new strengths and understanding of real-world environments (see “Conferencing In” on page 8).

Tsiligaridis happily cited a few of the students he’s helped into internships.

“Jesus Mendez, who graduated last year, did work at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland. Ermenejildo Rodriguez interned at Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction, then got a computer programming job at Costco headquarters in Seattle. Jeremiah Schmidt did an internship at IGERT Ecosystem Informatics and is now doing meaningful work in his community at the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic.”

Like Mendez, Rodriguez and Schmidt, every computer science major at Heritage will have had at least one internship before he or she graduates.

“I am very happy to see that our program is known and well respected in the Yakima Valley area,” said Tsiligaridis. “We see our students continuing to thrive.”

Heritage University graduates Meadow Rodriguez and Gerardo Ruelas photographed where they work at the Costco corporate headquarters in Issaquah, Wash. Sept. 19, 2018. (GORDON KING/Gordon King Photography)

MAKING MEANINGFUL CHANGE

Now director of the Information Technology Department at Centralia College where he also teaches computer science courses, Small said his Heritage education was solid – and that his degree was not the only thing he took with him when he graduated.

“My students are almost all low income. Because of my experience at Heritage, I see my job as empowering them.”

Small focuses on personally connecting with students to help them like his mentors at Heritage helped him.

“I see myself in the future working at the state level to support technology, using technology to drive change from within,” said Small, who’s about to earn his master’s degree from Georgia Tech with plans for pursuing his Ph.D. after that.

“The further up I can get in the hierarchy, the more I can drive the decision-making.

“My professors, and really everyone who makes Heritage what it is, showed me that, given the right curriculum and the right support, we can all succeed.”

The Computer Science program at Heritage University focuses on the theory and techniques by which information is encoded, stored, communicated, transformed and analyzed. The program concentrates on the theory of algorithms – which, simply put, are procedures that tell your computer what steps to take to solve a problem or reach a goal – the structure of languages for expression of algorithms, and the design of efficient algorithms for the solution of practical problems. Extra emphasis is placed on the study of everyday computer systems hardware and programs. page11image50103312

A Legacy Grows at Heritage

In October, Heritage University formally dedicated the Sister Kathleen Ross snmj Legacy Giving Circle mural with an event as special as the woman for whom it is named. The university and its supporters celebrated those who make up the circle with an afternoon high tea.

 

The Giving Circle is comprised of individuals who have included Heritage in their planned giving. “The tea was more than a dedication of a wonderful piece of art,” said David Wise, vice president for Marketing and Advancement. “It was the first of a planned annual recognition of our many committed supporters and an opportunity to thank them for their ongoing support.”

Julie Prather and Norma Chaidez

The mural design was conceptualized by Heritage visual arts major Carlos Prado, who works part-time in the university’s marketing department. Yakima muralist and fabric artist Deborah Ann developed the final design based on Prado’s initial work, and Ellensburg glass artist Julie Prather created the stained glass apples that bear the names of the Giving Circle members.

You can add your name to the Legacy Giving Circle by simply informing Heritage of your plans to include the university in your estate gift. You can bequeath a range of gifts, from stocks and bonds to IRAs, and also name and direct how your funds will be used. For more details, call (509) 865-8587.

Emily Jameson, director of donor development, pours tea for Kathleen Ross and Deborah Ann

 

HU BSN program aims to alleviate projected nursing shortage in U.S.

The U.S. is projected to experience a shortage of registered nurses in the coming decades. It’s a problem that will be compounded by the aging Baby Boomer generation.
Heritage University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program was started in 2015 to help meet that demand. With our nursing program, students graduate with three years of work experience in patient care. The rigorous curriculum, experienced faculty and state-of-the-art nursing center will equip students to step into a nursing position right after graduation or continue their education in a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or PhD Nurse scientist program.
The BSN program at Heritage recently earned accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). For more information on how to get started with the BSN at HU,  contact Melissa Sanchez at (509) 865-8551 or visit Heritage.edu/nursing.
Nursing.org, created in 2016 in response to the growing demand for nurses, has researched financial aid opportunities for nursing students and nurses who want to advance their careers. A pair of guides provides extensive information into FAFSA, scholarships, loan forgiveness programs and more. One is geared specifically towards minority students, who often face greater financial hardship than their counterparts. They are:
Financial Aid Guide for Nurses
https://www.nursing.org/resources/financial-aid/

Financial Aid Guide for Minority Students

There’s also a resource for nurses in Washington which includes state-specific license requirements and career outlook information:
The Heritage University Financial Aid Department also works with students to find resources to help fund education. Contact the office at (509) 865-8502 for more information.

HU biology professor develops ‘quizfolio’ to get students interested in science

Getting students interested in science is always a challenge, but HU assistant biology professor Dr. Bob Kao may have developed a new way to pique the curiosity of pupils. He’s developed an innovative assignment called a “quizfolio.” What exactly is a quizfolio? It’s a blend of a quiz and mini-portfolio, and the Yes We Must Coalition ran a story on the concept in its newsletter. Click here to read the full story.

Students share research through ‘elevator speeches’ during symposium

Summer Internship Research Symposium at Heritage University, September 14, 2018

Several Heritage students shared what they learned during their summer internships with the Heritage campus last Friday. During the “Summer Internship Research Symposium,” students presented posters detailing their work. They also summarized their work by delivering “elevator speeches” which focused on the most important aspect of their internship.

Great job everyone!

Heritage University campus and community celebrate El Grito de Independencia

The Heritage University campus was festive this weekend as student clubs and organizations held the first ever “El Grito de Independencia” in observance of Mexican Independence Day. El Grito commemorates the “Cry of Dolores,” a historical event that set off the Mexican War of Independence from Spain. 

Diana Maria Oliveros Martinez delivering the El Grito at the El Grito de Independencia event at Heritage University, September 15, 2018

Close to 500 people attended the Heritage festival which featured fun for the entire family. The cultural event included Folklorico dancers, piñata breaking, games for kids, and performances by Banda Parla Azteca and the CWU Mariachi Club. Families were treated to a free movie and popcorn. 
The highlight of the night was the reenactment of the “El Grito” as delivered by special guest Diana Maria Oliveros Martinez of the Consulate of Mexico office in Seattle. We wish to thank everyone who made the event possible and those who attended.
Click below to see videos and pictures from the event.

Fall Convocation to recognize Dean’s List students

Please join the faculty, staff and students of Heritage University for the Fall Student Convocation as we welcome in the new academic year. Special recognition will be given to the students who made the Dean’s List for the spring 2018 semester.
Toppenish School District Superintendent John Cerna will deliver the keynote address. Fall Student Convocation will be held Thursday, September 13, 2018 in Smith Family Hall from 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

MLS program graduates 12 new MLS professionals

The Heritage University Medical Laboratory Sciences Program celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2018 graduates during a ceremony at HU on August 17, 2018. HU President  Andrew Sund, PhD. congratulated each graduate as their names were called. The graduates welcomed the incoming cohort before the ceremony.

Check out pictures from the ceremony on Facebook.

 

 

 

Costco co-founder meets with Sinegal Family Foundation Scholars

Costco co-founder Jim Sinegal met with the first cohort of Sinegal Scholars at Heritage University last month. The students are the first five to receive full-ride Sinegal Family Foundation Scholarships at Heritage. A total of 20 students will earn their degrees through the scholarship program made possible by a $1.14 million gift from the Sinegal Family Foundation to Heritage last year.

Heritage alumni who now work at Costco headquarters will provide mentoring opportunities over the course of the year inclusive of a trip to meet with Costco executives and Jim Sinegal again next spring.

You can see pictures from the dinner on Facebook.